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Just the Essentials

An Ole Miss graduate’s business offers dreamy dorm room design and decor.

Written by Mary Kelley Zeleskey | Photographed by Joe Worthem

What began with building shelves to raise money for a mission trip has blossomed into a thriving business helping students beautify their dorm rooms.

During her time at the University of Mississippi, Eden Montgomery’s dad helped her learn how to build a shelf to fill an empty space in her dorm room. Soon after, Montgomery needed to raise money for a mission trip she took through campus ministry. She began building shelves to sell to fellow students and around the same time created an “Essentials with Eden” Instagram account for a class project. Her social media page gained so much attention that she began receiving numerous requests for a variety of items such as cabinets, headboards and more.

And with that, her dorm room decorating business, Essentials with Eden, was born.

“We had questions for everything, so we took the summer to learn how to build each item, and we have been growing ever since,” Montgomery said.

In addition to the growth of the Instagram account, which now has more than 17,000 followers, she had the privilege of decorating two showrooms for Ole Miss Department of Student Housing for orientation tours.

With the large number of requests her business continues to receive, Montgomery now has clients at Mississippi State University and has even begun shipping select furniture items to customers at out-of-state universities, including Clemson and Texas Christian University.

To begin the process of decorating a client’s room, Montgomery meets with them to discuss colors and any specific furniture items in which they are interested. She then creates a home-away-from-home specific to each client’s style and needs.

“The thing about me going to Ole Miss is that it’s even more fun to meet the incoming freshman and see the excitement on their faces,” Montgomery said. “It’s fun to share my experiences and maybe make it not as scary of a transition for them.”

One of the biggest challenges about her business, Montgomery said, is everyone moves into their dorm within the same few days in August. Last year, Essentials with Eden had more than 100 customers, including both full-room installations as well as clients looking to purchase individual items. So, all hands are on deck during the week of move-in.

For customers interested in specific furniture items without the commitment of a full-room installation, the Essentials with Eden website is available for select items to be shipped.

“We think the Lord has blessed us in many ways because it started because of the mission trip,” Montgomery said. “It has really escalated, and we learn more every year.”

Four Tips from Essentials with Eden to Make Your Dorm Room Look Dreamy

1. Queen-size bedding is recommended to cover the dorm room bed frames; and it transitions to apartments later.

2. Custom bed skirts soften the look of the room while covering the storage under the bed.

3. To make a statement in your room, try hanging large pieces of artwork or framing something special.

4. Lighting is key to making a room look bright. A pair of lamps between the beds gives light access to both roommates. Floor lamps by the seating areas can also brighten the room.

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